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BibleWorks and the Septuagint

July 15, 2012

I recently blogged on why you need the Septuagint. And here are some great resources to begin and further pursue Septuagint study.

One indispensable resource for Septuagint study that I use almost daily is the computer program BibleWorks. I have not yet made the upgrade from version 8 to version 9, but much if not all of what I have to say here will still be applicable to users of version 9 (and 7, for that matter).

Here is what my BibleWorks looks like for 1 Maccabees (click or open in a new tab to view larger):

The following features help me navigate my way through the Septuagint:

  • A nice, big Browse Window (middle column in the top window) so that I can see the whole Greek verse easily at once, with English translations below. Both the LXA (Brenton’s Septuagint with Apocrypha, in English) and the NRS (NRSV, which includes the Apocrypha) are part of BibleWorks.
  • A stand-alone Word Analysis Window (bottom right of the screen) so I can better use my other columns. I set the default lexicon to LEH (Lust/Eynikel/Hauspie’s Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, Revised Edition).
    Not only is this a fantastic Septuagint-specific lexicon; it also includes word frequency counts. What I particularly like about this is that I can use the Stats window (in the Analysis Window, the right column in the top window) to find out how many times a word appears in the whole Greek Bible (LXX+New Testament). Then using the LEH frequency counts, I can get a quick number on how many times a word is used in the LXX and the NT. This is helpful if I see an LXX word that occurs 200+ times, have never heard of it, and then see it only appears 10 times in the NT.
  • The Resource Summary Window (bottom left of the screen). Here I can access Conybeare’s Grammar of Septuagint Greek, which comes with BibleWorks and is hyperlinked both by part of speech and Scripture index. Another nice feature is that I can pull up BibleWorks paradigms quickly for a given part of speech–a helpful grammatical refresher! The IVP Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels in that window is an add-on from WordSearch, but their IVP Dictionary package has a bunch of great Septuagint articles.
  • Note: There is no punctuation in the BibleWorks Septuagint text. This is not a display error; it’s just how it is. There are accents and breathing marks, though. And, the way I see it, even if Rahlfs in print has punctuation, the original manuscripts did not, so no huge loss.
  • I hesitate to write too much more about the Analysis window (right column in the top window), because BibleWorks 9 has significantly changed (=improved) the layout. In fact, there are now four columns, as seen here. However, for anyone using 8 or less, the above configuration allows you to work with the LXX profitably. For BibleWorks 9, I’m sure you could use the above layout as is (BW9 lets you use just three columns if you want, I believe) or make whatever modifications you wanted in BW9.

1 Maccabees has no existing Hebrew text. The scholars I’ve read on it all think that the Greek of 1 Maccabees has the flavor of translation Greek, and so translated a Hebrew original. But we don’t have it. (BibleWorks is powerful, but not quite that powerful!)

How I use the LXX when there is a corresponding Hebrew text (e.g., when I’m reading Micah) looks a little different. For example, in addition to the above, I’ll have the Hebrew text and English translation displayed. BibleWorks has the amazing Tov-Polak Parallel Hebrew/LXX Database, too, that comes with the base package.

BibleWorks allows me to read through the Septuagint in Greek with English translations displayed underneath. (I can also hide them–that’s what my “No Eng.” tab is in the left column of the top window.) It gives me instant word analysis (its parsing and then word definition and frequency count through LEH). I get grammatical helps from Conybeare and BibleWorks paradigms. I can search on a word to see how it’s used throughout the Septuagint and/or New Testament (note the highlighted word above). And with the IVP add-ons, I get historical background, too.

Using BibleWorks is a fabulous way to read through the Septuagint. I feel very blessed to have access to such a tool as this.

And I know there is much more BibleWorks can do. Fellow BibleWorks users and lovers of the Septuagint, how do you use BibleWorks for LXX success?

Septuagint Sunday is a regular feature of Words on the Word. All my LXX posts are here. The full contents of BibleWorks (now in version 9) are listed here. You can buy the program here or here.

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